Accounting Degree Overview for Arkansas

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Located in the South and surrounded by major business hubs, Arkansas connects many cities and states. While not the most populous state in the region, Arkansas still employs thousands of skilled workers, including 7,440 accountants and auditors, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The BLS projects a 6% job growth rate nationwide for accountants and auditors from 2018-2028, and projections show an increased need for accountants in Arkansas, as well. Accountants and auditors in Arkansas also earn decent wages compared to nearby Mississippi, Louisiana, and Kansas. Beyond accounting and auditing, learners who earn degrees in accounting end up in well-paying roles across Arkansas industries.

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Arkansas hosts dozens of quality two- and four-year institutions, many of which offer accounting degrees at various levels. Before pursuing accounting degrees in Arkansas, students should learn more about job outlook, potential salaries, various types of accounting programs, and finance for their education.

Arkansas at a Glance

Population3,039,000
Per Capita Income$26,626
Fortune 500 Companies8
Number of Higher Learning Institutions53
ClimateAverage Annual Temperature: 60.4 °F
Annual Precipitation: 50.6 inches
Major Sports TeamsArkansas Razorbacks, Northwest Arkansas Naturals, Arkansas Travelers
Accountants in Arkansas7,440

Top Arkansas Schools for Accounting

  • John Brown University
  • Ouachita Baptist University
  • Harding University
  • Central Baptist College
  • Arkansas State University
  • University of Central Arkansas
  • Arkansas Tech University
  • University of the Ozarks
  • Crowley’s Ridge College
  • Southern Arkansas University

Why Go to College for Accounting in Arkansas?

According to the U.S. Census, only 22.6% of Arkansas residents hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 31.5% of Americans nationwide. Earning a college degree in Arkansas could provide a competitive advantage for many positions, including those in accounting. Some accounting positions require a minimum level of education, such as an associate or bachelor’s degree.

According to a 2019 report by the Arkansas Division of Higher Education, higher education institutions enrolled 121,792 undergraduate students in fall 2018. This continued a steady trend downward for the total number of undergraduate students in Arkansas. The same report noted only 19,745 graduate students enrolled that same semester, also trending down over the past several years. However, another report showed a 45.8% six-year graduation rate for Arkansas students who enrolled in 2015, compared to just 40.1% for those who enrolled in 2011.

Attending school in Arkansas holds a number of advantages. The College Board reports that Arkansas charges lower in-state tuition rates than the national average. Although Arkansas out-of-state tuition rates cost more than many other states, they still fall below the national average. Arkansas residents seeking affordable education could save significantly by staying in the state, and those interested in Arkansas colleges may consider seeking residency before enrolling. Additionally, those interested in accounting careers in Arkansas can form important professional connections by completing their degree in the state.

Education Statistics for Arkansas

A total of 26 four-year colleges and 27 two-year colleges reside in Arkansas. Interestingly, more two-year institutions exist in Arkansas than four-year institutions; nationally, the number of four-year institutions is nearly double the number of two-year colleges.

Arkansas students embrace online education, with 38.1% of learners studying at least partially online, compared to 34.7% of students across the nation. As previously mentioned, fewer Arkansas residents complete higher education than the national average.

Higher Education Statistics in Arkansas

Arkansas DataNational Data
Number of Four-Year Colleges263,004
Number of Two-Year Colleges271,579
Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education38.1%34.7%
Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student$8,368$8,196
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education8.3%5.8%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree7.0%8.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor’s Degree14.4%19.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher8.1%12.1%
Sources: NCES, SHEEO, U.S. Census Bureau – American Community Survey

Accreditation for Arkansas Schools

When researching accounting programs in Arkansas, make sure only to apply to accredited schools. Colleges and universities can receive regional or national accreditation, both of which demonstrate an assured level of quality. However, students considering accounting degrees in Arkansas should prioritize regionally accredited schools. Some employers may reject applicants who did not attend regionally accredited schools, and most graduate or transfer programs require previous college credits completed at regionally accredited schools.

Students’ potential financial aid opportunities could also come under scrutiny if they do not attend regionally accredited schools. In Arkansas, look for schools accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Some programs also receive programmatic accreditation. For example, many business schools earn accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. Many other accrediting bodies exist, but only trust those backed by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Considerations for an Accounting Degree in Arkansas

Accounting careers take many forms, and potential positions depend heavily on students’ education. Prospective learners must decide which level of education they plan to complete. Some schools also offer concentrations or specializations for accounting degrees, which applicants must also take into account during their selection process.

Many students in Arkansas choose to study partially or entirely online. Choosing between an in-person or online format impacts program structure, length, and cost. Prospective students concerned about paying for their accounting degree should research various forms of financial aid. Regardless of aid, Arkansas boasts below-average tuition rates for all types of students.

Accounting Degree Levels

Some professionals, such as certified public accountants (CPAs), must complete specific levels of education. Other professionals, such as bookkeepers, auditors, and accounting clerks, require lower levels of education. The amount of education students complete dictates the positions for which they qualify.


  • Associate Degree in Accounting

    Two-year associate degrees in accounting introduce basic accounting and business topics. These degrees lead to some entry-level positions, including clerk jobs.

    Learn More


  • Bachelor's Degree in Accounting

    Four-year bachelor’s degrees in accounting teach the basic accounting skills required for entry- and mid-level positions. The degree serves as a stepping stone for future CPAs.

    Learn More


  • Master's Degree in Accounting

    Some positions require a master’s degree in accounting, and many accountants complete their master’s to satisfy CPA requirements.

    Learn More


  • Ph.D. in Accounting

    Ph.D. in accounting programs cover theoretical topics and lead to careers in research and academia.

    Learn More


Accounting Concentration Options

Some accounting programs, usually those at the bachelor’s level or higher, allow students to select optional concentrations. Concentrations let students dive deeper into non-accounting topics or niche accounting concepts. Though not required by employers, concentrations demonstrate accountants’ interest in specific fields. Earning an accounting degree with a concentration could help graduates find relevant positions or prepare them to enroll in related graduate or Ph.D. programs. The following concentrations could prove particularly useful in Arkansas.

  • Financial Accounting: Financial accountants analyze financial statements to determine organizations’ financial health. Students delve into finance topics and can pursue more finance-oriented roles.
  • Cost Accounting: Cost accountants use accounting skills to help create budgets and financial plans. This concentration focuses on broad business skills such as management, communication, and logistics. The concentration suits students interested in management-level positions.

Accounting Concentrations

On-Campus Versus Online Program Options

Many of today’s colleges and universities embrace online education. Online education matches the quality of on-campus programs, but with several differences. Some students opt to study partially online in a hybrid format, while others earn a traditional on-campus education.

On-Campus

Best for individuals who enjoy communities, prefer face-to-face interactions, and require a rigid schedule to stay on track, on-campus education follows a traditional format. Students attend class at specific times, interact with faculty and students, and spend time engaging with others around campus.

Online Programs

Online programs teach the same material as on-campus programs, but at a distance. Online students tend to have busy personal lives or work commitments, and distance learning provides them with flexible learning options. Some online programs use asynchronous courses, meaning students may complete classwork whenever they choose. Schools sometimes offer tuition discounts to online students, and in some instances they extend in-state tuition to out-of-state learners. Students who prefer flexibility benefit most from online programs.

Hybrid Programs

Instead of committing to an entirely online or on-campus education, students in hybrid programs complete some coursework online and some in person. In these programs, some courses employ both in-person and online formats simultaneously.

Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education

Enrolled Exclusively in Distance Education CoursesEnrolled in Some but Not All Distance Education CoursesNot Enrolled in Any Distance Education Courses
Arkansas Students13.5%24.6%61.9%
United States Students16.3%18.4%65.3%
Source: NCES

Paying for Your Accounting Degree

College students in Arkansas benefit from relatively low tuition costs. The average four-year institution costs $8,187 for in-state students, compared to the national average of $9,037 for in-state students. Even out-of-state students enjoy lower tuition costs, paying an average of $20,061 per year versus $25,657 nationally. Private institutions also cost less in Arkansas than nationally.

Even after taking advantage of relatively low tuition rates, students in Arkansas can lower their costs even further through financial aid, scholarships, grants, and loans. Some accounting programs might also offer paid internships, a great way to earn money and experience.

ArkansasNational
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)$8,187$9,037
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)$20,061$25,657
Average Tuition and Fees (Private Four-Year)$22,610$30,731
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)$3,291$3,243
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)$4,762$7,971
Source: NCES

In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

Those researching college costs have likely noticed the stark difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition rates. To help maintain affordable higher education for state residents, public schools extend a lower rate to in-state learners. As a result, out-of-state students pay higher premiums to study at public schools in Arkansas. By contrast, private schools do not set out-of-state or in-state tuition rates and charge the same tuition rates for all students regardless of residence.

Fortunately, those residing outside of Arkansas can still secure in-state tuition rates. The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) works to standardize education across the South. Part of SREB’s work includes the Common Market, a multi-state agreement that allows residents from SREB member states to secure in-state tuition in other SREB member states. For example, Texas residents can secure in-state tuition in Arkansas through the Common Market, and vice versa.

Arkansas’s Cost of Living

Aside from tuition and fees, students in Arkansas must consider other costs, including transportation, housing, groceries, and utilities. According to World Population Review, Arkansas ranks as the second-most-affordable state in the nation with a score of 86.9, with 100 the national average. Housing is particularly affordable in Arkansas, which is ideal for anyone living in the state and planning to study online.

Other School Selection Criteria

While degree level, potential concentrations, program format, and tuition play a large role in determining where to attend, applicants should also consider other factors, including the following:

School Size

Some students prefer to study at large public universities, while others want small, private colleges. Consider the benefits and drawbacks of each option, including campus size, class size, and student-to-faculty ratio.

Admissions

Meeting a college’s minimum admission requirements does not guarantee admission. Look at each school’s average GPA and test scores for its most recent class to determine your potential eligibility.

Program Length

Intensive, accelerated accounting programs typically allow dedicated learners to expedite their degrees. Part-time programs, by contrast, take longer but allow learners to earn an education while meeting other obligations.

Program Culture and Outcomes

Colleges and universities set up their accounting programs with various goals in mind. If you plan to begin a career after college, search for programs with high employment rates. Those interested in continuing their education might prefer more academic-oriented programs.

Alumni Network

Alumni networks help graduates find positions and often offer mentorships.

EXPLORE OUR RANKINGS FOR THE BEST ACCOUNTING PROGRAMS AT EACH LEVEL

Careers for Accounting Graduates in Arkansas

The BLS projects a 6% national job growth rate for accountants and auditors from 2018-2028. Projections Central projects a 12.6% growth rate for accountants and auditors in Arkansas during that same time period. As long as Arkansas’ population continues to grow, the need for skilled accountants and auditors should keep growing, as well.

While accountants and auditors enjoy work opportunities across the state, the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers and Memphis areas pay the highest mean wages, according to the BLS. Arkansas’ close proximity to major cities makes working near the state border particularly lucrative. The same goes for other careers, such as bookkeeping, auditing, and accounting clerks. Some accounting careers also see high employment and wage rates in the Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway area.

However, specific job outlooks and salary expectations vary by career. To secure some of the most lucrative accounting positions, individuals must first complete accounting degrees in Arkansas or another state.

Select Accounting Careers in Arkansas


  • Bookkeeper

    Bookkeepers, auditors, and accounting clerks keep track of financial records and transactions for various businesses and organizations. Doing so requires a solid grasp on basic accounting and finance skills. This position may not require a degree, though applicants with at least an associate degree in accounting have an advantage during the application process.

    Job Outlook in Arkansas: +1.1% (2018-2028)

    Learn More


  • Tax Preparer

    Tax preparers compile tax returns for businesses, corporations, and individuals. Tasks include gathering tax information; calculating taxes based on local, state, and national codes; and ensuring tax returns make it back to clients before the tax deadline. This position requires at least a bachelor’s in accounting, and projections show strong job growth in Arkansas.

    Job Outlook in Arkansas: +10.8% (2018-2028)

    Learn More


  • Budget Analyst

    Budget analysts examine the finances of businesses, corporations, and organizations to determine whether they align with short- and long-term goals. Budget analysts may find ways to cut costs and recommend changes in spending to achieve organizational goals. Budget analysts require a bachelor’s degree, though many earn master’s degrees in accounting.

    Job Outlook in Arkansas: +9.3% (2018-2028)

    Learn More


Arkansas Employment Trends

Projected Job Growth for Accountants

8,790 Employees2018
9,900 Employees2028
Arkansas 12% increase
1,424,000 Employees2018
1,514,700 Employees2028
National 6.4% increase

Source: Projections Central

Explore more careers here

Overall, accounting professionals in Arkansas earn lower mean wages than the national average. However, due to Arkansas ranking as the second-most-affordable state in the nation, these salaries could go further than expected.

Personal finance advisors may enjoy some of the best accounting positions in Arkansas. Arkansas personal finance advisors earn a mean wage of $87,960, and the BLS projects a job growth rate of 11.2% in Arkansas for these professionals. Individuals should complete a master’s degree in accounting if they plan to earn the highest wages possible.

Bookkeeping, auditing, and accounting clerks, along with accountants and auditors, enjoy the highest employment rates in Arkansas. Financial managers enjoy the third-highest employment rate for all accounting positions in Arkansas, and these professionals earn an excellent mean wage of $107,990.

Arkansas Requirements for Certified Public Accountants

Most high-level accounting careers in Arkansas require CPA licensure. Accountants attain this designation through a combination of education, experience, and testing. Each state sets its own requirements for CPA licensure, so those interested in becoming CPAs in Arkansas must meet Arkansas’ requirements:

  • Submit Social Security number and information.
  • Complete at least 150 semester hours, including a bachelor’s degree.
  • Participate in an international examination program.
  • Complete 30 upper-level or 20 graduate hours in accounting. Courses must cover predetermined topics, including financial accounting, management accounting, federal taxation, governmental accounting, and accounting information systems.
  • Complete a bachelor’s degree, including 30 non-accounting business credits with a “C” grade or higher before sitting for the CPA exam.
  • Earn one year of accounting experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA.
  • Pass the CPA exam.

Resources

Frequently Asked Questions


  • Is accounting a good career in Arkansas?

    Projections show a 12.6% job growth rate for accountants and auditors in Arkansas, compared to just 6% nationally. This means plenty of new, well-paying accounting careers in Arkansas from 2018-2028.


  • How much do accountants earn in Arkansas?

    Accountants in Arkansas earn a mean annual wage of $66,450, which is lower than the national mean wage of $79,520. However, the cost of living in Arkansas is the second-lowest in the nation. Other accounting positions come with higher pay rates.


  • What accounting jobs are there in Arkansas?

    Most accounting graduates find work as bookkeeping, auditing, and accounting clerks or as accountants and auditors. Of all accounting professionals, 4,810 work as financial managers.


  • Can I get an accounting degree in Arkansas?

    Yes, Arkansas offers accounting degrees at every level through public and private institutions. Earning an accounting degree in Arkansas also prepares graduates to become CPAs.


  • Does Arkansas have online accounting programs?

    Yes, Arkansas features online accounting programs at every level, but online program availability varies by school. Some schools offer hybrid programs that combine online and on-campus education.


Arkansas Accounting and Education Organizations

  • Arkansas Society of CPAs: The oldest organization dedicated to accountants in Arkansas, ARCPAs provides helpful resources for accounting professionals and students. Member benefits include discounts, CPE opportunities, and networking.
  • National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors – Arkansas: Best for accounting professionals who specialize in finance, NAIFA-Arkansas advocates for financial professionals at the state and federal level. NAIFA-Arkansas also connects new professionals with advisors.
  • Arkansas Government Finance Officers Association: Created in 1978, Arkansas GFOA represents individuals interested in governmental accounting. Members gain access to annual conferences and local chapters located across Arkansas.
  • Arkansas State Board of Public Accountancy: ASBPA certifies and licenses accountants across the state. Current and future accountants can use the site to find applications, submit fees, and verify continuing professional education.
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